Do processing rates matter?
If you are thinking of upgrading your TV it's all too easy to get confused with all the different specs and 'technical telly speak' jargon that you'll be faced with. To be honest, some of it is more important than others, but one spec that is definitely important is processing rate. Read on to find out everything you need to know about it.
Processing rate - what is it?
Let's start with the basics. When you watch TV you are actually seeing a rapid series of images. This makes up the moving image on the screen. It is the processing rate (or refresh rate) that determines just how quickly those images flash up on the screen.
Processing rate is measured in Hz (hertz), the higher the Hz measurement is the more refreshes per second on the screen. The quicker the refresh rate then the smoother and less blurry the picture on the screen becomes.
A rough guide to processing rates
Generally speaking a rate of 50Hz is enough to ensure a good overall picture. The vast majority of modern TVs will have 60Hz - but 50 is absolutely fine. At 100Hz fast action is handled more smoothly and 200Hz is particularly good for watching fast-paced sports and also for gaming.
Techniques used to improve processing rates
Some 4k Ultra HD TVs boast a processing rate of 1000Hz. This is achieved because of a few features that manufacturers add to spec. Backlight flashing is when the backlight of the TV goes dark in between each frame. This creates a smoother image. Similar to this is black-frame insertion which essentially has the same effect. The naked eye can't actually tell what is going on with either backlight flashing or black-frame insertion - we just recognise the improved smoothness of the picture.
For slower-paced programmes, you might want to disable frame insertion. This can be done by going into the settings and reverting back to 60Hz.
Different measurement systems
Just to make matters a little bit more confusing, some manufacturers also use different measurement systems to take into account other factors that contribute to the overall picture quality, such as backlight refresh rate, contrast and brightness.
For example Samsung use PQI and LG use PMI as well as Hz, whereas Sony just stick with Hz.
Unfortunately, this makes direct comparison between manufacturers difficult so it’s best to judge quality by looking across the whole range a manufacturer. Whatever the system used, the higher the number then the better quality it is.